• Re: Should you find yourself in...BERLIN

    For starters, let me just say Sch√łnefeld is a very simple and I'm guessing young airport, because it's facilities are really not top notch and it's a petty damn long walk away from connecting infrastructure. That being said, for us, young people, travelling in the summer, the walk was not such a problem, but when it's cold or if you're not that into walking, you are pretty much forced into grabbing a cab -which is quite expensive in Germany.

    That being said, once you're aboard the train you're on a part of a great interconnected web of transportation. Trains, trams, subways and buses, Berlin has a lot of them all. Figuring them out is another matter, but overall it's a decent system. This too, is pretty expensive, which is pretty well illustrated by the fact that in the course of the weekend I was accosted by a total of five beggars -three of which where asking for tickets with hours left on them rather than money. Figuring the transportation system is paramount -Berlin is a huge city spread out wide, and even though we walked our shoes off most days, we'd have no chance to see all that we wanted to see without the weekend transportation pass.

    What we did see was mostly people. The people of Berlin is an as diverse bunch as any, and even with my imagionation I do not think I could conjure up a costume that would incur more than a passing glance. Also, even though I am not sure if this is just my imagination or if it's a fact, it seemed as though very little of the diversity were ghettofied. In most other great cities I've been to there's an italian quarter, a muslim part or a little China. There were a lot of nationalities and ethnicities around, but they seemed pretty spread out. If this is, in fact, a fact, then hooray Berlin. That is just great.

    In things to see I would recommend people to pop by the Holocaust monument, which in any case is near Brandenburger Tor and the other tourist must sees -but I wouldn't recommend it after being there myself -there's so many tourists!

    The other side of the "unter der lindes" (or something similar, which the parade street is called) though, with the university buildings and churces, is magnificent and somewhat less crowded, and has some green patches you can sit down on. And once you sit (or anytime, really) you can enjoy some wine or beer or whatever, since another thing Berlin is good at it's ignoring/applauding open air drinking. This was working out in a good fashion, at least as we could see, there was a lot of drinking going on, but no drunken idiots stumbling about apart from that share of the population that would be walking around in a stupor no matter what.

    I can recommend both the places we stayed at, the first night we stayed in a hotell called Castell. It was situated in Charlottenburg, which seemed like a rather posh area of town (we were surrounded by known and unknown showrooms all looking extremely expensive), but pleasant nonetheless. The hotell was very cheap, very simple, but with clean facilities and a hearty breakfast included in the price. The next two nights we stayed in a hostel called Amstel House, and it was horrible, in a way, but very cheap. The reason it was horrible was it was too big, I think, and they were hard on drinking in rooms, noise and happiness. It could have been a truly great hostel, because it had a good location and new facilities, but for the most important factor in choosing a hostel before a hotel (apart from the price) is that you can hang around the hostel and usually have a lot of fun and meet a lot of people. Amstel house tried to work against this in stead of being nice guys. The hostel bar, although open 24/7, was expensive and did not have enough seats or offer much in terms of entertainment. A simple thing like a jukebox or a pooltable would be a revolution in that place.

    We did have the option of going out to have our fun instead, and we really did. After advice from Arianny, amongst others, we hung out alot in the area southeast of Ostbanhof, Kreutzberg and Friedrichshain. I was actually a little bit disapoointed by these neighbourhoods by day (and one of the guys we met that lived in Berlin said these parts had become so hip that the housing prices now forced a lot of the original inhabitants out), but they really came alive at night, with small and big bars all around, people making their own bars in streets and parks and a pretty cool atmosphere. We did not even try to get into Berghain, they wanted more girls to go there and four guys coming together would have no chance at all. (Unless they would be a lot cooler than us, lol) I considered going by myself since I would have better odds that way and part of me really wanted to get a whiff of the place, but really, there were other good places. Even though we spent a lot of time in the east, the favourite place I visited was lokated in Oranienburg, which is pretty much dead center of the city. We started out the night at a rather classy coctailbar (with an old newzealander that I will get back to some other place) where the drinks was a little bit expensive but generous in size -and very good. Another nice thing about the place was the girls going out there, which were stunningly beautiful and wore rather short skirts. Not that I would care, of course, but for the two singles there was a lot to rest the eyes upon. A little bit later we sent the old kiwi home in a cab and wandered around, and that's when the magic happened.

    There was a line forming up in one alley with some interestiong looking lights, and I went in to investigate. It turned out the lights came from some sort of beach-club that didn't really interest me, but as I turned around there was a doorway with an old woman sitting in it, and she beckoned me over and showed me a poster for what was going on inside, which was some kind of art and some kind of performance, although not performanceart

    The house was really worn down and probably was an old buliding nobody wanted. Partly because of Aris comment about these galleries in Berlin (thanks again) and partly because I've had fun in similar places in other places around the world I made the others join me as we paid the 2 euros grandma wanted of us. The first floor/section we came to was calm bar of sorts, where we got a beer each and sat around for a while. There were some locals there as well as a group from Stuttgart, who where super-friendly and extremely happy we've made it all the way from norway and to their little place.

    Which turned out to be huge. We went further up and found many more floors where there were bars, exhibitions and a huge crowd of interesting people. The top floor was a chilled out place where a DJ (who where as high as the butt-ugly tv-tower that mars the Berlin skyline) played some chilled out house and people sat around in worn out sofas or leaned out the "window" to view the city. The window actually was a whole section of wall that had been removed/fallen out, and there was a tiny outcropping where those daring enough could sit and dangle their feet. We spent some time there, and I probably would have spent the rest of my stay there if it hadn't been for the restlessness of the others. They complained about not being alternative enough, something I rarely think about. Thinking about it is what's wrong. Anyway, to appease them and keep them around longer I proposed we look around some more (the place really was huge). Down a few steps and through some no longer excisiting walls we came to a bigger room where a Dj was hammering out something... I don't know if there is such a thing as ambient yet industrial techno, but lets pretend there is, and was quite good at it, whilst a truly talented VJ projected supercool images onto the far wall. The place was filled with all kinds of people, and all were dancing and sipping on beer and wine they sold out of worn out coolers and the most run down tap I've ever seen.

    It was a truly amazing place, and I literally would have lived there for the weekend if I could. If I had been a single and more sexually outgoing sort of guy, I... The thing were crazy, and the german artgirls really liked me, to a poit where it almost got weird. I was desperately trying to project their interest over to my friends so that they would enjoy themselves more and not drag me away, but it did not work. If only I'd gotten a nice girl to chat to each of them, theid soon enough forget about the music they didn't really like and the, in their opinion,somewhat too freaky crowd. In the end, I made a final plea for another halfhour and then we went on our way. Sadly, a couple of hours later even my friends had to concede that it had been a mistak to leave as we did not find anything even remotely as cool after we left, and as this was our last night it was the last I saw of it. They have a website at tacheles.de, for anyone with a knack for german.

    I don't know if I'll be going back to Berlin soon, and I'm not really sure if I would recommend it for a weekend-trip such as ours. The place is simply too big to figure out in an optimal way in such a short time. Even so, we had a very nice trip overall. But if I'd had a full week, or two, or even better; six months or something as an exchange student, I can hardly think of a more interesting place.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Should you find yourself in... started by Apoc View original post
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